Former NFL star Ricky Williams doesn't smoke weed anymore, but during his playing days, he says, "It worked for me. It was better for my body. It wasn't necessarily better for my career.
"It's given me a bit of a reputation that I'll have to deal with for the next 20 years, until people forget."
Williams failed numerous drug tests for marijuana when he played for the Dolphins. He was suspended twice and took a personal hiatus which landed him to India.
"I think if you ask the NFL, they'd say the drug program is for our safety," Williams points out. "But I think it's more to protect the image of the league."
Like many current players, Williams used pot as a replacement for pain medications. "It's easier on your liver," he tells USA Today. "It doesn't cut your awareness off from your body, the way most pain medications do. It actually increases awareness of your body.
'When I played and I smoked, my body would relax and I'd go in the room and stretch a little bit and do some yoga. And relaxing would help my body recover faster.'
"It's interesting that people talk about physical benefits. I think there are some psychological benefits, too, especially something like the NFL where the stress level is so high. It helps you relax, and everyone knows if your muscles relax the blood is going to flow, which means more blood, more oxygen, more nutrients, which decreases healing time."
During his 10-year professional career, Williams gained 10,000 yards. He no longer has the pain and stress he suffered while in the NFL.
"When I go places, people offer me pot all the time," Williams notes. "And then I have to say, 'Well, I'm sorry, I don't do that anymore.' And they look so disappointed."